Lviv (Ukraine) (AFP) – Holders Sevilla remain on course to reach yet another Europa League final after escaping from Ukraine with a 2-2 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in their semi-final first leg on Thursday.
Marlos and Taras Stepanenko scored for Shakhtar after Vitolo had given Sevilla an early lead, but Kevin Gameiro’s 82nd-minute penalty ensured the holders have the upper hand ahead of the return in Spain next week.
Unai Emery’s side, who defeated Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk of Ukraine in the final last season, are bidding to win the trophy for a third year running and they got off to a dream start in Lviv.
The game was just six minutes old when Ever Banega and Gameiro combined to set up Vitolo, who left Yaroslav Rakitskiy on the ground and fired low through Andriy Pyatov and in.
That silenced the crowd at the Arena Lviv in western Ukraine, where 2009 UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar have set up home due to the conflict in the east of the country.
However, Pyatov was a virtual spectator for the rest of the first half as Mircea Lucescu’s men roared back to turn the game on its head.
First a Rakitskiy pass midway through the opening period cut open the Sevilla defence and the Brazilian Marlos controlled before finishing low into the net with the side of his left foot.
Then Shakhtar went in front on 36 minutes, Stepanenko meeting a magnificent Marlos cross from the left with a thumping header at the near post.
Sevilla, who like Shakhtar were eliminated from this season’s Champions League in the group stage, were dealt a blow 20 minutes from the end when substitute Michael Krohn-Dehli was stretchered off with an apparently serious knee injury.
Despite that they pressed in search of an equaliser and a precious second away goal, but Gameiro had one effort disallowed, blazed another shot over and was then denied by a miraculous Olexandr Kucher clearance off the line.
The French striker did strike with eight minutes left, though, scoring from the spot after Facundo Ferreyra was adjudged to have fouled Vitolo in the box.